Welcome to the Foundation Stage at St Joseph’s Pontefract!
Hello and welcome to the Foundation Stage class page! The Foundation Stage Team are very excited to welcome you and your child into our school. We have a fun filled classroom that engages and supports learning. The Foundation Stage helps us to settle into school, be happy, make friends and begin our primary school journey.
Please find below information, key documents and useful resources for you and your child.
If you ever have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
The Early Years Team
The class teachers in Lower Foundation are Mrs McHale and Mrs Birch. The Teaching Assistants in Lower Foundation are Mrs Rotherforth and Mrs Mace.
The class teacher in Upper Foundation is Mrs Grace. The Teaching Assistants in Upper Foundation are Mrs Conboy and Mrs Wilson
Early Years Statement of Intent, Implementation and Impact
Intent: Why do we teach what we teach?
As a Foundation Stage Team we aim to provide our children with an active, fun filled, exciting learning experience which will lay the foundations for the children’s future.
At St Joseph’s Catholic Primary we place great value on the development of children as individuals and providing them with the skills, knowledge and understanding they need to prepare them for the challenges in Key Stage One and beyond. Our aim in the Early Years is to build strong foundations rooted in academic success as well as moral and spiritual development, so that ultimately our pupils can be successful in their lives, go on to be active citizens of society and happy, curious life-long learners. We want our children to have a love of learning and to experience the awe and wonder of the world.
Our Early Years Curriculum provides a secure foundation for future learning where children gain the knowledge, skills and understanding they require for success. We want children to be motivated, resilient, kind and respectful of others and the environment. We want them to leave us as independent, confident and happy learners who are the best that they can be.
Through our creative curriculum, we teach children how to listen, speak and meet the high expectations for behaviour by working together and being kind. As such, we prioritise personal, social and emotional development and communication and language in the Nursery curriculum. Our enabling environment and warm, skilful adult interactions support the children as they begin to link learning to their play and exploration. As the pupils move into Reception, we invest time and energy into helping pupils set and reflect on their own goals by aiming high and developing a love of reading, writing and number. We support all children to feel secure in their learning environment so they feel challenged to achieve their best.
As each child embarks on their learning journey, we provide rich and memorable learning experiences that takes into account the different needs, interests and learning styles of all our children. We aim for children to develop strong characteristics of effective learning so they are highly motivated, sustain good concentration and are eager to join in and have good self regulation when beginning to make friendships and play alongside other children. We build on children’s growth mind-set so children show resilience and keep on trying hard and learn that making ‘juicy mistakes’ are all part of the learning process.
Our curriculum is planned but personalised and flexible to equip each child with the knowledge, skills and experiences they need, in a holistic way, to ensure learning is embedded and meaningful. We provide opportunities for meaningful cross-curricular links through our topics and learning experiences as well as promoting the unique child by offering extended periods of play and sustained thinking following children’s interests and ideas. We value imagination and creativity and seek to create a sense of enjoyment and fascination in learning through a vibrant continuous indoor and outdoor provision.
We aim to work closely with our families and to create positive and supportive relationships. We recognise and celebrate diversity and the achievements of all our children and promote good health and wellbeing. Throughout their time in the Early Years, the children will develop a sense of belonging to our school community and a readiness to transition to year 1.
Implementation: – How do we teach what we teach?
Early Years Reforms
At St Joseph’s Catholic Primary we follow the ‘Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework’ published by the Department of Education, for both our Nursery and Reception Classes. It sets the standards for learning, development and care for children from birth to 5. Presently, the framework is being reviewed and ‘new reforms’ will be in place from September 2021.
As we are keen to be at the forefront of any new initiatives that are aimed at improving the learning and development outcomes of children we have signed up to take part in the ‘Early Adopters EYFS Framework’ which includes the reforms. The safeguarding and welfare requirements of the 2017 EYFS framework continue to apply but there are some changes to the areas of learning and the early learning goals. These will have some impact on how we assess the children’s learning and development but the good news is that we can continue to provide the same high quality and stimulating early years curriculum that we always have.
Within our Foundation Stage we follow the Early Years Foundation Stage Principles, which guide the work of our staff. These are grouped into four themes and are at the core of our commitment to providing quality care and education at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School Pontefract – A Unique Child, Positive Relationships, Enabling Environments and Learning & Development.
Our Early Years curriculum follows the guidance of the EYFS, is broad and balanced and offers opportunities for enjoyment and success through active learning.
Throughout the Nursery and Reception years, each individual child will develop a range of knowledge, skills and understanding to work towards them achieving the Early Learning Goals at the end of the Foundation Stage. We plan for all seven areas of learning, recognising the importance of the prime areas for our younger children. Our aim is to tailor the education of each child, by looking at their next steps of development, through both the prime and specific areas of learning.
The three prime areas are:
- Communication and Language
- Physical Development
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
The four specific areas are:
- Understanding the World
- Expressive arts and design
The children will also develop their characteristics of effective learning which are, playing and exploring, active earning and creative and critical thinking.
- Playing and exploring – children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’;
- Active learning – children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements;
- Creating and thinking critically – children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas and develop strategies for doing things.
Our Foundation Stage is a welcoming, engaging and nurturing environment. We offer continuous provision in all the areas of learning to enable our children to thrive, explore and develop with a good balance of child and adult initiated learning opportunities. The teaching and learning is carefully planned to stimulate children’s development. The Early Years timetable is carefully structured so that children have directed teaching sessions in Maths, Phonics and English with regular circle time and collective worship to focus on PSED and RE. These sessions are followed by group activities where children work with a member of staff to develop their individual needs. This focused group time means the teacher can systematically check for understanding, identify and respond to misconceptions quickly and provide real-time verbal feedback which results in a strong impact on the acquisition of new learning.
The children are provided with plenty of time to engage in ‘exploration’ throughout the variety of experiences carefully planned to engage and challenge them in the provision. The curriculum is planned for the inside and outside classrooms and equal importance is given to learning in both areas.
The curriculum is planned in a cross-curricular way to enable all aspects of the children’s development including understanding the world and expressive art and design as well as to promote sustained thinking and active learning. Our work across the curriculum is built around topic areas which change each half term. Topics are linked to the seven areas of learning and focus on the children’s interests. Each topic is linked to stories to promote the children’s speaking and listening skills alongside a love for reading.
Supporting children’s communication and language skills is a high priority in our Early Years environment to enable them to become confident talkers. We recognise the interaction between adults and children is key and we encourage the children to engage in back and forth conversations encouraging the use of new vocabulary. Recognising when children are ‘in their element’ through listening, respecting their thoughts and ideas and sharing the joys of their discoveries is an important aspect of this.
We have a strong emphasis on reading in our Early Years, both skilled reading and developing the children’s love of books. The children follow the successful Read, Write Inc program for their Systematic phonics lessons which is continued into KS1 so that they meet good outcomes for reading. Children are provided with a language rich EYFS environment where their reading skills are developed through guided, group sessions and access to reading material in provision.
We also value developing the children’s gross and fine motor skills to support their early writing development. We provide lots of provision to support fine motor skills and the Reception children have daily fine motor activities to support their early writing skills.
We follow the NCETM Maths approach in Reception with an emphasis on studying key skills of number, calculation and shape so that pupils develop deep understanding and the acquisition of mathematical language. Pupils learn through games and tasks using concrete manipulatives which are then rehearsed and applied to their own learning during exploration. Nursery pupils begin to develop these key skills during maths sessions which are both adult led and through continuous provision where they explore sorting, quantities, shape, number and counting awareness. These early mathematical experiences are carefully designed to help pupils remember the content they have been taught and to support them with integrating their new knowledge across the breadth of their experiences and into larger concepts
We also follow our school RE scheme, “The Way, The Truth and the Life” in which children learn about and explore the Christian faith. It also gives opportunities for children to learn about other major world faiths.
Our inclusive approach means that all children learn together but we have a range of additional intervention and support to enhance and scaffold children who may not be reaching their potential or extending children who are doing very well. This includes, groups to support early language development, fine motor skill development or additional ‘catch-up’ provision in Maths and Phonics. This will be provided in an inclusive way and support from parents is also enlisted at an early stage to ensure that the children have every chance to achieve the Early Learning Goals.
Staff also carry out daily, quick, on the spot intervention focused on sight words, blending and number retention with target individuals. The characteristics of effective learning are viewed as an integral part of all areas of learning and are reflected in our observations of children.
Our regular monitoring of teaching and learning ensures that our curriculum is up to date and focussed on children’s interests. We regularly meet to discuss judgements, moderating assessment decisions and discussing individual children so that every member of our team feels confident in making accurate judgements about where individual pupils are and their next steps for learning.
Our ongoing observations and assessments allow us to respond quickly to the children’s learning and plan next steps. We use Tapestry, an online journal, so we can share the children’s progress and achievements with parents.
The children are supported at the end of their foundation stage with transition into Key Stage 1. We prepare children for Year 1 with visits to their new class, meeting the teacher and ensuring the environments are similar at the end of EYFS and the start of Year 1.
The team in Early Years work tirelessly to ensure that children are surrounded by a kind, caring and happy environment which helps them develop the same skills in their journey through school. It is a positive place to be where resilience, perseverance and successes are celebrated and every child feels valued and respected.
Impact – How do we know what pupils have learnt?
Prior to children starting, staff spend time speaking to the child’s parents, previous settings and read previous learning journey’s to gain an understanding of the whole child and where they are at. During the first half term in Nursery or Reception, all staff use ongoing assessments, observations and conversations with the child to develop a baseline assessment. This identifies each individual’s starting points in all areas so we can plan experiences to ensure progress.
During these formative years, the progress of each child is closely monitored and through careful planning, observation and assessment, the next steps for their learning and development are continually identified and encouraged to enable each child to achieve their full potential.
Our curriculum needs to meet the needs of all our children, including our disadvantaged pupils and those with SEND, so we spend time looking at and evaluating how children are learning. This is achieved through talking to children, looking at their work, observing their learning experiences and analysing data and progress by year group, class, groups and individuals. Every member of staff uses ongoing observational assessment to identify children’s starting points and plan experiences which ensure progress.
This information is tracked on Tapestry and Insight Tracking which enables us to measure our starting points against a national data set. We use this information to plan learning experiences and next steps so that knowledge and skills are built cumulatively. During each assessment window, three times a year, teachers update the progress children have made onto Insight Tracking which allows us to assess the impact of teaching and evaluate next steps in teaching and learning. Evidence of children’s learning including observations, work samples, photographs and contributions from parents are recorded on Tapestry journal online and in individual and floor books.
Our curriculum and its delivery ensure that children make good progress. During their time in our Early Years, children make good progress so that we meet the national expectation for GLD at the end of the year. Pupils also make good progress toward their age-related expectations before transitioning into Year One. We believe our high standards are due to the enriched play-based exploration alongside the rigour of assessment and teaching the children have as they move through the early years – a rich diet of balanced learning experiences is undoubtedly the best way to develop happy, curious children.
We want every child to have a happy start to their school life and enjoy each and every day that they spend with us.